Mr Verity by Andrew Bell

Mr Verity

A friendly stranger has taken over
the top floor in my head.

A man of culture and refinement,
he wears smart shoes,
with polish well rubbed in;
keeps his best thoughts
in his wardrobe on the shelf
above his suits and ties
and his aspirations,
in other fine pieces,
some suitably distressed.

You will never hear him grumble
about errant thoughts leaking
through distressed tap washers,
embarrassing moments, or missed opportunities.
But, I suspect he has come to teach me,
hold a mirror to my foibles
or, because he never seems to rest,
reset my synapses as I sleep.

More often though, I will find him
playfully disrupting my self-absorption,
like when he sings melodious refrains
through the floorboards above my bed.

At weekends, I may accompany him
in duets,
and sometimes, when I miss a beat,
I can see by his look,
that I’m somewhere else,
reliving those Sunday afternoons,
with the lady I met in the flat below,
the one who keeps my dreams
with her rings in a box.

And when the world is having fits
about this or that,
or when I get caught up
with the problems of mortality
or the properties of dark matter, or eternity,
or I’m wondering whether writing a poem
is a symptom of insecurity,
he answers my questions
with thoughtfulness and grace.

Then my attic voice
begins to change its tone.
I’ll feed on benign spaces
between the words,
put the issues back in their chest,
slip quietly into those silent attic spaces,
and make a cup of tea.


‘Locks’ by Kevin Murphy

Thanks to Kevin for his response to our trigger ’lock’. Kevin writes:
‘Here is a short extract from my current work in progress, and autobiographical novel based on my experiences looking for love after leaving a Monastery.

Every other weekend, now without fail, and with Alan’s help, I went back home. The adults of the Youth Centre Management Committee showed that great lesson I learnt at Greyfriars: their trust that young people could be responsible. They took some persuading, but I had to fight to save my lost love.

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‘Life on Earth’ by Andrew Bell

We love you,
Mother Earth
as much
as we love our kin,

even as we bear witness
to your defilement;

even as we disable
your natural rhythms
lay waste your lands,
poison your air and soil.

For we came to see you,
long ago, as separate,
as a lifeless mechanical force,

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‘LOCK, STOCK AND BARREL’ by Pete Brammer

Pete’s response to the Trigger ‘lock’ … and two others.


DCI Townsend’s bleep suddenly broke into life at 4am one Sunday morning. Answering to the call, he learned there had been a break in at Bedlam’s Electrical, on the Mayfair Industrial Estate the other side of town. Along with his number two, Joe Watson, they set off to investigate.

Arriving on site, a police constable stepped out to greet the officers. “Constable Jenkins, sir.”

Townsend nodded. “What do we have Jenkins?”

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‘Unlocking Poems’ by Andrew Bell

Some words belong to each other.

Others have to be hunted, tamed
and harnessed, to make them work.

Some need a gentle push, then fired up
to ignite others,

or careful watching to hear how they sing,
to see if they’re good for a line or a piece.

In a poem, some people want something
fancy or funny,

but even more, they want things
that are hidden to be unlocked.

And the poet will try to oblige
by gazing upon the swell of images,

swirling behind the surface of things
to bring something back for a dish;

or, by tapping into the secrets
from the further reaches, and plucking them,

like hooked fish, to let them speak.
Others might look further still: by crossing

the threshold of voice and fire, into the holy
ground of silence, where gentle thought-winds

emerge and coalesce, they would whisk them
into shape and form, and land them on the page.

And some poets may just sit quietly and think,
letting the words flow through, with the ink.

Then writing becomes a joy as they let it run,
chasing lines by colour, form, and scent,

watching leaves and flowers spring up along
each branching thought,

learning to listen, as the poem begins to speak,
making sure to set it free, when all that’s done.

New year, new prompt!

Not written anything in 2021 yet? Well… shame on you! I know, I know, its all been a bit trying over the last, well, last year really, and Christmas was absolutely no exception (hope you managed a good one somehow or another despite restrictions). But come on now, brace yourselves, lets get this show on the road and get something down on paper. It really doesn’t matter what you write, nobody else needs to see it, just get writing.

Personally, I love a free-write. That is to say, write for a set number of minutes (I usually give myself 20 mins) starting with a particular subject, no punctuation, no lifting the pen (or your fingers if you’re typing), and no stopping to think. Just write the junk that spills from your mind – a bit like word association. It’s amazing what connections you can unexpectedly (and often, unexplainedly (is that a word?? ’tis now…) come up with, and they’re more often than not a good kick-start to a cracking story, poem or piece of creative non-fiction.

With the current lockdown now firmly in place, I thought ‘Lock’ might be a good starting point. Some of the things I’ve come up with are:

What is locked ? Doors; cupboards; trunks; wardrobes; diaries; hearts; personalities; minds; err…. lockdown (of course)….

Why are they locked? How do you open them? Where is the key? If you open them, what’s inside? Do you need another key? Are you locked in, or locked out?

Well, I could go on, but I’m sure you’ll come up with plenty of other ideas. I’d love to see the resulting work, so get writing….. Write Now!!